Kampala, Uganda | LOUIS JADWONG | Veteran Ugandan journalist, publisher and analyst Charles Onyango-Obbo has explained why the world will not just sit back and watch as resource-rich Africa does nothing productive with its assets.
Quoting former Ugandan politician Eriya Kategaya, in what Obbo described as the ‘Kategaya doctrine’, and his prophesy, he explained why and how foreign powers like China are positioning themselves on the continent. He also explained the ‘land grab’ crisis facing East Africa.
“The world, won’t, can’t just sit back and watch if we, Africans, do not put our resources to productive use. Global players will come, take and do something about these resources. It is the cold reality. It is the way the world works,” Kategeya famously said at a conference in Nairobi in 2011.
Onyango-Obbo however hailed Uganda for playing a key African geopolitical contribution to the world, with her army, the UPDF, intervening in Somalia in 2007.
He was keynote speaker on the final day Friday of the two-day Africa Geopolitics Conference at Makerere University. He spoke, mainly through illustrations, on “the role of Africa in geopolitics”.
Onyango-Obbo described the ‘Indian Ocean Circle’ as key to the world economy, and said the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) had played an important geopolitical role in making the Indian Ocean safe for investment, as piracy out of Somalia had become a major world headache. He said the ‘Indian Ocean circle’ today has the largest concentration of military bases in the world and largest concentration of multi-national and rival forces since the 2nd world war.
He argued that Uganda provided the biggest geopolitical goods to the world by their intervention in Somalia in 2007
“I think we need to appreciate what the UPDF did. We keep asking what does Africa give the world? What the UPDF did when it became the first mover contingent to Somalia was it supplied one of the biggest geopolitical goods to the world. It made it possible to turn the tide in the Horn and west of the Indian Ocean against piracy.”
The East African country was the first to deploy troops under AMISOM into Somalia in March 2007. Uganda has provided all four AMISOM Force Commanders with the recent outgoing being Lt. Gen. Andrew Gutti.
— KAS Uganda & S.Sudan (@KasUganda) October 18, 2019
Anybody who knows the history of independent journalism and intellectual discourse in Uganda knows what it means when these great minds meet: @cobbo3 and @AndrewMwenda at #KampalaGeopolitics pic.twitter.com/9CdhInCUDf
— KAS Uganda & S.Sudan (@KasUganda) October 18, 2019
The Ugandan contingent remains the largest contingent in AMISOM with 6,223 troops based in Sector 1 which comprises of Banadir (Mogadishu), Middle and Lower Shabelle regions.
“In a way, what happened in 2007 in Somalia, became very significant for the the World Cup in 2010 in South Africa, drove the largest investment into fiber optic infrastructure into Africa. It was the point at which Africa made the turn on the fiber front,” Onyango-Obbo continued.
He said geopolitics is a subject that should interested even millennials, as it offers great job opportunities. “By next year, the global market for geopolitics risk analysis and work will be $17billion to $120billion,” he revealed.
“Even if you cannot go out and save the world and make Africa a better place, just study it, and be smart at it, and learn it, because you can actually make a living doing it.”
Kenyan politician Prof. Anyang’ Nyong’o capped the opening remarks by sharing anecdotes how and why Makerere remains one of Africa’s highest centers of research and learning.
Enter Kakooza Mutale
Rtd Major Kakooza Mutale, of the famous Kalangala Action Plan that interfered in nearly all Ugandan elections after in the 2000s, gave closing remarks, saying It’s high time we contextualized all societal issues discussed into our Mindset
Mutale was an economics lecturer at Makerere University who was tortured by the Milton Obote regime back in 1982, and ended up in the bush with Yoweri Museveni’s NRA.
The Conference agenda
The Kampala Geopolitics Conference is a two-day academic public event discussing current geopolitical questions and trends. It is inspired by the successful event “Geopolitics of Nantes” in France.
The conference aims at creating a high-level, interactive and dynamic platform for dialogue and free exchange of ideas cutting across contemporary, local and international geopolitics. Experts from Uganda and the African continent were joined by international researchers to engage in participatory and documented debates on global topics.
The conference was held at the emblematic University of Makerere, one of oldest and most prestigious universities in Sub-Saharan Africa, where many African leaders were trained.
Partners involved are The Embassy of France, Konrad-AdenauerStiftung (KAS), Makerere University, UN Women Uganda, Alliance Française Kampala and Reach a Hand Uganda.
The inaugural Kampala Geopolitics Conference took place in October 2018 and was the first of its kind conference held in Uganda. This year’s event hosted 18 round tables and panels and further exchange platforms on a variety of topics relating to Global Challenges, Regional Trends, the Sustainable Development Goals, and Culture and Society.